NRA to hold annual convention in Indianapolis in April 2014 - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

NRA to hold annual convention in Indianapolis in April 2014

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Chris Gahl, Visit Indy Chris Gahl, Visit Indy
Houston's convention attracted protesters. Houston's convention attracted protesters.
INDIANAPOLIS -

Indianapolis is preparing to host its biggest convention ever, and chances are you know nothing about it.

Eyewitness News has confirmed the National Rifle Association is coming this spring.

Last year's NRA convention in Houston drew a record 86,000 people, including Sarah Palin, who wore a "women hunt" T-shirt.

Members came to check out the latest firearms, attend seminars and promote gun rights.

In late April, the NRA will hold its annual meeting in Indianapolis.

"Certainly the biggest on the books for 2014," said Chris Gahl, Visit Indy.

Gahl says they began courting the group in 2007, snagging it in 2009 with the convention center expansion and new JW Marriott under construction.

"From a business standpoint, it's incredibly powerful - $55 million," said Gahl.

So, it's the biggest convention in city history, booked five years ago and not a peep from the city, until we asked about it today?

"Sometimes we rely on the customer to dictate when we announce this and in their minds they weren't ready until end of January, maybe early February," said Gahl.

But Gahl also acknowledged the NRA's conventions often draw protestors and a lot of media attention, like the one in Houston did.

"National media will come here. They'll want to know about trends in the industry; they'll want to know about gun rights and gun control. We're bracing for not just for 70,000 people but a lot of polarizing issues," said Gahl.

As for changes in security, we turned to Barney Levengood, who manages the Convention Center.

"I think that we'll handle the NRA show just like we do with all of our shows. We'll consult with them. We'll get a sense of what level of priority they want to put on items from sound and light to security," he said.

Because of a change in state law passed in 2011, NRA members who are licensed to carry won't have any problem bringing firearms into the Convention Center. Gahl says it was a change critical to landing the convention this year and, he hopes, in years to come.

"If all things go like we think they will, it's something we'd like to have come back," said Gahl.

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